Ukraine and its backers have been lobbying Western nations, especially the United States, to supply the country with F-16 fighter aircraft for several months to use in its conflict with Russia. However, experts in air combat feel that even if Ukraine acquires these jets, it would only be able to keep them effective for a short time.
The F-16 is so delicate that it needs an air base to be prepared for it, according to Justin Bronk, an air combat expert at the British think tank “Royal United Services Institute” (RUSI), as reported by “Business Insider” on the 25th. The Russian military will uncover the airport’s renovations as soon as Ukraine begins. He made this observation in a podcast titled “Geopolitics Decanted,” noting that the F-16 has a huge air intake under its nose that draws in everything on the ground.
The F-16 hence normally requires a clean, well-maintained air base. Bronk added that the F-16’s landing gear is also “very light” and that there is no extra weight on the fuselage beyond that required due to the aircraft’s good thrust-to-weight ratio (TWR).
While American-made F/A-18 carrier-based aircraft may land hard on floating runways to absorb shock, Russian fighter jets can take off and land at relatively simple airports. It would take a lot of work to clean up those old Soviet-era Ukrainian runways long enough for the F-16 to take off, stressed Bronke, to prevent the significant risk of the aircraft ingesting extraneous debris that would harm the engine. Furthermore, many Ukrainian airports have runways that are insufficiently long for F-16s that are fully loaded.
Whether it’s resurfacing or extending the runway, it’s obvious that there’s no way to escape the Russian military’s satellites and the informants Moscow has placed on the ground,” Bronk said. He also pointed out that although the Ukrainian air force is inferior to Russia in the number of fighter jets, air-to-air missiles, and technology, they have proved by their actions that they are both resilient and resourceful. However, because Ukraine’s air combat power “does not yet pose a serious threat,” the Russian military has not yet used its limited long-range missiles to bomb their air bases.